A few months ago, we reviewed Chris Portka‘s Trash Music (you can read our original review here) – as a creative, challenging, and utterly unique work of art, Trash Music goes down, at least in our annals, as one of the most left-field recordings we’ve ever had the pleasure of diving in to… Needless to say, when the opportunity came to get our hands on a vinyl copy of Trash Music, we couldn’t say no. Here’s a bit about our experiences revisiting Trash Music in a different medium – via the warm, comforting wash of analog vinyl.
First, there’s something to be said about receiving and unwrapping a vinyl – seeing the uniquely colored wax, enjoying the “case candy,” and experiencing the art in a physical sense before diving into the aural aspect of the album. My copy of Trash Music came in a surfy, mint green (a personal favorite hue). It also came with a full lyric sheet and two Chris Portka stickers which promptly made their way onto my guitar case. Lastly, Chris personalized my copy with a heartfelt signature:
“To Buffablog: Enjoy the noise! Thnx for the support. |||||||||||| Woot.”
As for the listening experience, rather than listening with headphones for that all-immersive experience, I experienced a different set of emotions while Trash Music played through my cheap, Crosley suitcase turntable. The more “music” songs of Trash Music, think “The Sky Is Blue In Hell” and “Let’s Go Play Today” hit different this time – they gave me a much stronger sense of nostalgia. “The Sky Is Blue In Hell” in particular gave me the feels, with it’s anxiety-forward lyrical content and harsh juxtaposition against the ear-shredding antics of songs like “to burn him up, is it too much to bear?” “Blue” reads”
“I have a standing panic attack whenever I’m around my friends
I need you to know I love you back”
The blown-out noise collages of the aforementioned “burn” and “we’re in this together” don’t feel so oppressive when they’re not masquerading as sensory deprivation tactics via your noise-cancelling headphones… But it was the weirder songs here that I gained a new appreciation for. “women are hot,” with its bonkers percussion and drone vocals, really stood out to me as an Animal Collective-ish track as the starry synth selection here sparkled brightly through my speakers. Same goes for the punked-out “Wildlife,” which took on a more rowdy, dive-bar-esque presentation while I headbanged across the room.
While I still enjoyed the more “typical” songs here like like The Flaming Lips-esque “Dream Factory,” listening to Trash Music in a different context was a lesson in music consumption I didn’t know I needed. I owe Chris a thanks for breaking me out of my typical day-to-day to help me realize that sometimes, context is just as important as composition.